Thursday, 24 February 2011

J is for...

... Journalist cocktails with Jamaican jerk ribs, followed by jalfrezi chicken, jardaloo ma gosht, jhatpat bhindi, jeera aloo and jolada roti. Next came a pre-pudding of juniper junket, jasmine jelly and jumbles followed by Jaffa cake pudding washed down with Jurancon.  

J night was a spicy affair which took place before Christmas when the UK was swathed in thick snow and food shopping was a struggle. I had planned to include a spiced jerusalem artichoke soup in between the jerk ribs and the curry marathon, but they were impossible to get hold of, despite their seasonality. Lily, one of our dinner guests, was in no way disappointed by this menu omission - she is no fan of soup, explaining her feelings by saying "it isn't a drink, it isn't a meal. What's the point of it?". I have met others who agree with her, but I am not one of them. Soup is comforting, warming and delicious: perfect for a snowy evening. But alas, it was the snow that kept us from our soup course and left the shops with empty shelves.

As usual, Richard made an excellent J-themed compilation CD including Philip Jeays, Jonathan CoultonJarvis Cocker, Jurassic 5, The Jackson 5, The Jam, Jane's Addiction, Janis Joplin, Jeff Buckley, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Joni Mitchell and Joy Division. For the cocktail, we chose to make Journalists - a classic martini-style cocktail, which dates back from the early 1900's.

Journalist



2 oz gin
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz triple sec 
A generous dash of lemon juice
A dash of Angostura Bitters

Shake over ice, strain into chilled cocktail glasses and serve with a twist of lemon. 

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

I is for... Idiazabal with incir tatlisi



Idiazabal is semi-firm unpasteurised sheep's milk cheese from the Basque region of Spain. The cheese has a delicious buttery flavour and a slight smokiness. It's quite difficult to find but Richard managed to get his hands on some at Iberica on Great Portland Street. Fruit with cheese is obviously a classic but the incir tatlisi worked particularly well served alongside this cheese. I adapted a recipe I found in Elisabeth Luard's Saffron & Sunshine

Incir tatlisi
Turkish stuffed figs with bayleaves in rosewater syrup
 
125g/ 5oz dried figs
1 tea bag
1/2 tbsp chopped walnuts
1/2 tbsp chopped almonds
1 tbsp chopped pistachios
75ml/ 2.5 fl. oz rosewater
1 tbsp runny honey
Finely grated zest of 1 small orange
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 bay leaves

Place the figs and the tea bag in a bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover them. Leave the tea bag in for a few minutes before fishing it out. Soak the figs in the tea for a couple of hours and drain, reserving the tea. Boil the tea, rosewater, honey, citrus zest and bay leaves in a saucepan and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes to create a syrup.

Preheat the oven to 180 C (160 C Fan)

Mix the chopped nuts together. Make a slit in the base of each fig and stuff each fruit until it is firmly full of the chopped nuts. Arrange the figs in an oven-proof dish, stalks pointing up, and strain the hot syrup over them. Pop the figs in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the figs are plump and the syrup is dark and silky. You can eat them hot with ice cream if you like, but leave them to cool before serving with Idiazabal. 

I is for... Iridescent Inuit ice cream igloos



"I" was, without doubt, a particularly difficult letter in my alphabetical quest. There really aren't that many ingredients that begin with "i" and in the hours that I spent wracking my brains, there was one word that seemed to get wedged inside my head, repeating itself again and again until finally I gave up, rolled over and realised it could no longer be ignored. This word was "igloo". Igloo. Igloo. Igloo. But you can't eat igloos. Igloos aren't food. But maybe they could become food. Maybe I could make an edible igloo? 

I scoured the internet for igloo moulds, but my search proved to be a fruitless enterprise. I'm sure there must be someone out there, somewhere, who makes igloo moulds, but where? Somewhere impossible to find that's where. And so, with a disappointed and protracted sigh, I came to the realisation that I would have to give up my search and somehow "fashion" an igloo myself. I found some half sphere moulds, but they were smaller, ideally, than I'd had in mind. So the idea needed to evolve - why make an igloo, when I could make an igloo village? An Inuit igloo village! OR, better still, an Inuit ice cream igloo village? I decided I wanted to make an ice-cream flavoured with something eaten in the Inuit diet and after researching online and ruling out raw caribou liver and seal brain as flavour options, I decided cranberry would be the most authentic wild berry in the Inuit diet that I could get hold of and so, it was cranberry ice cream that it must be.

Cranberries are anything but the colour of ice, so after freezing the ice cream in moulds lined with cling film, I unmoulded them and dipped them in melted white chocolate and returned them to the freezer. Because the melted chocolate is going on a frozen base (the ice cream) there is no need to temper it first. I made the igloo entrances using white chocolate plastique - a combination of tempered white chocolate and liquid glucose, kneaded together to create pliable, plasticine-like chocolate which you can roll out to cover cakes or use to make chocolate flowers or, in this case, igloo entrances. Once I transferred the Inuit ice cream igloos to a frozen serving plate, I dusted them liberally with icing sugar to make a snowy scene and then sprinkled on some iridescent magic fairy sparkle dust in ice white to give my village a glinting diamond shine.

Iridescent Inuit ice cream igloos


for the cranberry ice cream


1 tub (300g) frozen cranberries
1 pot (300 ml) double cream
Icing sugar to taste
A squeeze of lemon juice


for the igloos


300g white chocolate, melted
50g white chocolate plastique


Line your moulds with cling film - I used both half sphere moulds and a few custard pots, to give my igloo village some perspective - big ones at the front, little ones at the back. Make sure there is an overhang of cling film.


Blitz the frozen cranberries in a food processor with a little lemon juice and then, while the motor is still running, pour in the cream - it should immediately start to form the texture of ice cream.  Take off the food processor lid and sift some icing sugar over the top. Blitz again and taste for sweetness, adding more if necessary. Transfer the ice cream into your cling film lined moulds and fold the cling film overhang over the top of the ice cream to cover their tops. Stick them back in the freezer. Place a large serving plate in the freezer ready for later.


In the meantime, make your igloo entrances. Soften the chocolate plastique by kneading it - don't let it get too warm though, or it will turn into sticky chocolate sauce. Make a sausage and cut it to the length you want your entrance to be. Place the cut sausage on a small piece of baking parchment and rub it backwards and forwards to create a flat base. Use a fine, sharp knife to cut a "U" shaped hollow in the base of the sausage and then, using the tip of the knife, gently carve the surface of the entrance so that it looks like it has ice block marks.


A little while before serving, take the ice creams out of their moulds, take the cling film off and dunk the ice cream in the melted chocolate and pop them on the frozen plate. Glue the igloo entrances to the half spheres with a little melted chocolate. Sift over some icing sugar and iridescent lustre before serving accompanied by a delicious glass (or several) of chilled Icewine. 


I is for... Icewine mousse


You can make this mousse with Muscat, Sauternes or Tokaj, but the Icewine I found was particularly delicious and not nearly as expensive as other Icewines I came across - also, if you buy two you save a fiver - what's not to like? Although this would certainly be enough for pudding for any normal occasion, this was not for a normal occasion - this was for alphabet soup. As we were sharing the letter "i" with Richard's parents, it felt particularly important to ensure the pudding courses were well looked after as Derek, Richard's dad, is a big pudding fan. He has always claimed that there is a separate part of the stomach for pudding and he is a surgeon, so I'm more than happy to trust him that this is true. 

For the custard

4 egg yolks
75g/ 3oz light muscovado sugar
100/ 3.5 fl.oz double cream
250ml/ 8.5 fl.oz Icewine
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways, seeds scraped out

For the mousse 

4 egg whites
2 sheets of leaf gelatine
1 tbsp boiling water
A grating of nutmeg

To make the custard

Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Place the cream, Icewine and the vanilla seeds in a saucepan and heat gently until it comes to a gentle boil. Pour the hot cream and wine on to the egg mixture and whisk it together. Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat gently, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour it into a cold jug and place a sheet of cling film over the top to prevent a skin form forming. Leave to cool completely.

To make the mousse

Soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for ten minutes or until soft. In the meantime, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites a third at a time into the Icewine custard. Remove the gelatine from the water and squeeze out any excess liquid. Pop it back in the empty bowl and pour over the boiling water. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved and pour into the custard mixture and stir through. Ladle the mousse into Martini glasses (or other dessert glasses/ bowls) and pop them in the fridge to set for at least an hour. Once set, place two sheets of paper in either side of the glass to create a central strip and grate fresh nutmeg over the top. Carefully remove the paper and you should be left with a clean stripe of fresh nutmeg in the middle of each mousse and serve.


 

I is for... Imam bayildi



Richard and I are both big fans of aubergines, so we were excited to be able to include this Turkish aubergine dish for "I" night. According to Larousse, the name of this dish means "the imam fainted" and, according to legend, when this dish was prepared for a certain imam (priest), he was "so moved by the fragrant odour of the dish that he fainted from sheer gastronomical joy!". I am not a fan of sultanas, currants or raisins in savoury dishes, but they are a traditional addition to imam bayildi if you wish to include them.

Imam bayildi

Preheat the oven to 160C (140C Fan)

Serves 4

2 large aubergines
1 large onion, finely sliced into half moons
4 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
A generous bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
A little fresh thyme
The juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 tbsp Water

Cut the aubergines lengthways and scoop out the central flesh - ensuring that there is still enough flesh for the aubergine halves to hold their shape. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the aubergines and place them in a casserole or other heatproof dish. Finely chop the removed flesh and pop it in a large bowl with the onion, garlic, tomato, herbs, sugar, salt, pepper and a splash of oil. Mix it altogether so everything is coated in the oil.  Stuff the hollowed aubergines with the mixture generously.  Mix a couple of tablespoon's of olive oil with the water and pour it around and over the aubergines. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and foil and bake for 1-1 and a half hours, basting the aubergines with the liquid every now and then. Leave to cool to room temperature before serving with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice and serve alongside the piping hot ibex involtinis.
 

I is for... Ibex involtinis



I searched high and low for ibex meat and eventually stumbled upon the lovely folk at The Blackface Meat Company . I rang them to enquire about their wild goat and, hooray, the nice man informed me that they were indeed ibex goats. I ordered 500g of ibex mince as, along with the cost of delivery, this was not set to be a cheap eat. I had to wait in all day for its arrival, but it was well worth it. It turns out, ibex tastes like lean lamb but with a richer and very slightly gamey flavour. I decided to use the mince to make involtinis and in truth, I probably overstuffed them, but having searched so long for ibex, I wasn't going to waste a gram of the stuff. And besides, I rather liked that they were larger than strictly necessary - it just prolonged the enjoyment of eating them.

Richard made the tomato sauce for this dish, following a recipe in The Cheese Room by Patricia Michelson.

Tomato Sauce


Half a packet of butter (125g/ 5 oz)
2 red onions, finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
2 x 500g cans of plum tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
Fresh thyme and flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper


In a heavy-based pan, melt the butter until it is foaming and saute the onions and carrots. When they are golden but not caramelised, add the tomato puree and stir it into the vegetables. Add the plum tomatoes and mash them roughly. Add the sugar, herbs, salt and pepper and cover the pan, leaving it to simmer slowly until it is thick. This will take up to an hour. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.


Ibex Involtinis


Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan)


Serves 4


4 veal escalopes
Finely sliced Pecorino cheese
8 sage leaves
500g (250g would be enough for thinner involtinis) ibex mince (you could use lamb mince instead)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt and Pepper
Seasoned flour
Butter and oil for frying
Cocktail sticks
Tomato sauce (see recipe above)


Season the mince well and stir in the crushed garlic, ensuring it is all thoroughly mixed through. Fry off a little ball of the meat to taste and adjust the seasoning in the remaining raw mince if necessary. Next, bash the veal with a rolling pin until very thin. Lay a few slices of Pecorino along each escalope and then 2 sage leaves. Form a sausage out of the mince and roll it up in the veal. Use cocktail sticks to secure each involtini, ensuring that the join of the veal is on the bottom. Coat them in the seasoned flour and fry them in the butter and oil for a few minutes until golden, but not cooked through.


Place the involtinis in an oven proof dish, pour the tomato sauce around them and bake in the oven for around 40 minutes. Remove the cocktail sticks and drizzle their tops with extra virgin olive oil before serving with imam bayildi. 

Monday, 7 February 2011

I is for...

... Irish stew, ibex involtini with imam bayildi, Icewine mousse, iridescent Inuit ice cream igloos, Idiazabel with incir tatlisi

Richard's parents were coming to stay for a few days and we thought it would be a lovely idea to share the letter "I" with them. Gillian, Richard's mum, was slightly concerned that she wouldn't be able to make it through to the end, having already heard about the 6, 7 and sometimes 8 courses we'd eaten for other letters. Luckily, "I" doesn't lend itself to an exhaustive list of ingredients, so she was let off the hook and only had to make it through a paltry 5 courses. Needless to say, nobody went to bed hungry. 

As we were sharing "I" with his parents, I thought it would be nice if Richard and I shared the cooking this time, to make the evening a nice gift from us both (the Supper Club rules were thrown out of the window and the letter "I" was on us). We decided against cocktails to start with, as Derek and Gillian, unlike the gin swillers in my family, aren't huge drinkers and besides, a gloriously boozy pudding was sitting in the fridge waiting to be served for course number three. The evening's soundtrack consisted of Interpol (much to Richard's chagrin but my delight), The Ink Spots and Iggy Pop.

As Richard and I shared the cooking, I think it's only right that we share the blogging too. So, for "I" night only, I'd like to introduce the lovely Richard Hurst as a special guest blogger, starting with...

... Irish stew





For simple recipes like Irish stew, you really can't beat Elisabeth Luard's classic, European Peasant Cookery, and it's there I went for this recipe. It's a brilliant book, not only for the recipes, extracted by her from ancient peasant grandmothers, but also for the history of the dishes. Irish stew is one of a family of hearty stews from Northern Europe that combine meat, potatoes and onions and not much else: it's a close relative of Lancashire hotpot, scouse, labskova, shepherd's pie, and my personal favourite, stovies. What distinguishes it is the large proportion of potatoes and the long cooking time. Since we were serving this in miniature portions I cut the meat up into very little bits, but you can leave it in larger chunks. The recipe calls for further potato to be added at the end, but I didn't bother.


Irish stew

Serves four in starter portions

1/2lb neck of lamb (or mutton if you're after real authenticity)
1lb potatoes
1 medium onion
salt and pepper
1/2 pint of lamb stock

Chop the meat into small bits and slice the potatoes and onion nice and thin. Put everything into a casserole, layering the meat with the potatoes and onion, leaving potatoes on top, seasoning as you go, and ending with the stock. Cover the casserole tightly and leave to cook very slowly on top of the stove or in a very low oven (130°C/gas mark 1) for two hours. On the day we let it stew for even longer than that and it made it all the more unctuous and tasty - although you may need to keep topping it up with water to stop it burning on the bottom. We served it in individual casseroles.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

H is for... Highland Blue, Hundred Dram Cheddar and Harbourne Blue

Cheeseboard




It was to good old Paxton & Whitfield that Richard went for H's cheeseboard. He came home with a choice of two delicious blues (though only one is shown in the photo for some reason - it must have been the Harvey Wallbangers...). Highland Blue is a cow's milk cheese with a nice peppery flavour. Harbourne Blue is a goat's milk cheese from the West Country. He also brought home some Hundred Dram Cheddar, a traditional cow's milk cheddar also from the West Country.

H if for... Hazelnut and chocolate tart with honeycomb ice cream



Hazelnuts and chocolate together are not only a classic combination, but also one of my absolute favourites. And Frangelico, the Italian hazelnut liqueur, is something I could happily quaff at any time, so I was certain a forkful of this delicious tipple in the tarts would be just the ticket. Both chocolate and hazelnuts are complemented by orange, so I decided to add a little finely grated orange zest to the shortcrust for an extra and tangy flavour punch. 

When I was growing up, it was always a huge treat to be taken out for lunch and we often went to an excellent old-fashioned pub in Langton Green called The Hare because it was a particular favourite of my Grandad's. I don't usually get particularly excited by ice-cream (unlike my Mum, who always ensures she always has a larger supply than she will ever eat, if only to feel a reassuring sense of comfort on opening her freezer door), but you couldn't go to The Hare and not get excited by the honeycomb ice cream. I knew that whatever pudding I chose would be accompanied by a scoop before I'd even entered the building. I don't know if they still do it, having not been there for years, but if they've taken it off the menu I hope they somehow find this blog post and think again.  

I was slightly concerned that my pudding wouldn't balance - was the addition of honeycomb ice cream a flavour step too far? No, it couldn't be - honeycomb ice cream goes with everything after all. Although this might be a stretch, even at The Hare, it was certainly true for my hazelnut and chocolate tarts. In fact, Richard declared it to be his favourite Alphabet Soup pudding so far.

Hazelnut and chocolate tart

for the pastry (enough to line 8 to 10 individual tart moulds or a 9" tart case)

5oz/ 125g unsalted butter
4oz/ 100g icing sugar, sifted
9oz/ 225g plain flour, sifted
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp cold milk
The seeds from 1 vanilla pod 
The finely grated zest of 1 orange
A pinch of salt

I often make shortcrust pastry in the food processor - it really is the work of seconds to make the dough. If you don't have one, don't panic, it will only be the work of minutes nonetheless, but make sure your butter is at room temperature if doing it by hand - it doesn't seem to matter if it's used straight from fridge in a machine.

Blitz together the butter and sugar. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until a dough begins to form. Tip it out on to a large sheet of cling film, pat it down slightly and pop it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour. Preheat your oven to 180 C (160C Fan).

Line your tart cases and blind bake them. Click here for instructions. Leave the cases to cool while you get on with making the filling.

for the praline


4oz/ 100g skinned and blanched hazelnuts
2oz/ 50g caster sugar


Oil a large baking tray. Put the nuts and sugar in a heavy based saucepan and place over a medium heat until brown. Pour out on to your prepared baking sheet and leave to cool. Once cool, break it into pieces and crush it with a toffee hammer or rolling pin or blitz it in a food processor.


for the filling


10oz/ 250g good quality dark chocolate (I used Divine 70%), chopped
4oz/ 100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
600 ml double cream
3 egg yolks
A forkful of Frangelico

Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a large mixing bowl. Heat the cream until it just begins to boil and pour over the chocolate and butter (if you've left it on the heat too long and the cream starts to come to a rolling boil, leave it to stand for 1 minute before pouring over the chocolate, so you won't burn the chocolate, making it grainy and inedible). Leave the mixture to stand for a couple of minutes before gently stirring it with a rubber spatula until the chocolate and butter has melted and the ganache is thick. Whisk in the egg yolks and then add the Frangelico - tasting the mixture until you have added the perfect amount - it's a hard job, but someone's got to do it.

to build your tarts

Scatter a layer of praline into your cold tart cases before pouring in the hazelnut and chocolate filling. Scatter their tops with more praline and pop them in the fridge to set for at least an hour, but they will probably need two.

Honeycomb ice cream

for the honeycomb

4oz/ 100g runny honey
140g pot of liquid glucose
4oz/ 100g caster sugar
2oz/ 50g soft brown (preferably light muscovado) sugar
5 tbsp water
4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Place the honey, glucose, sugars and water into a heavy based saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has fully dissolved. Increase the heat and boil until it reaches the hard crack stage (150C on a sugar thermometer) - it will be golden around the edges of the pan and if you drop a tiny bit of syrup in a glass of cold water it should immediately solidify into a ball. Quickly stir in the bicarb - be very careful as it will immediately erupt into a frothing, foaming mass. Ensuring you tip the honeycomb away from you as you do it, pour the mixture into your prepared tin. You can carefully move the tray back and forth to even it out but don't spread it with a palate knife or you'll lose the bubbly crunchiness. Leave to cool for at least an hour, before peeling it off the baking parchment and smashing it with a rolling pin.

for the ice cream

4 egg yolks
4oz/100g caster sugar
12 fl.oz/ 350 ml double cream
The seeds from a vanilla pod

Heat the cream and vanilla in a heavy based saucepan over a gentle heat until it begins to bubble at the edges. In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Tip the scalded cream on to the egg mixture and whisk together. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (you can check by dunking a spoon into the custard and drawing a line with your finger on its back - if the line remains, the custard is done). Pour the custard into a cold jug and place a sheet of cling film over the top to prevent a skin from forming. Leave to cool.

If you have an ice cream machine (don't forget to pre-freeze the bowl!) pour the custard into it and churn until almost firm. Reserving a little of the honeycomb for scattering later, chuck the rest in the machine until fully incorporated. Transfer your ice cream into tupperware and pop it back in the freezer. Take it out 5-10 minutes before serving so that it's soft enough to scoop out.

If you don't have an ice cream machine, stir the honeycomb (reserving enough for garnish) into the custard and pour into a wide tupperware box.  Pop it in the freezer for about 4 hours, stirring  every 20 -  30 minutes to prevent ice crystals forming.

To plate up, take the tarts out of their cases and place each on a small plate.  Place a scoop of ice cream next to it and scatter the top with the leftover honeycomb.


  








SweetasSugarCookies
If, like me, you're serious about puddings, check out Sweets for a Saturday for more delicious dessert inspirations beginning with all letters of the alphabet!

H is for... Hare in Hobsons Old Henry ale with herby dumplings and haricot beans



There was a sense of disappointment from some of the guests and a sigh of relief from others that I wasn't dishing up horse for H. Or, even better still, according to one of the diners who shall remain nameless (Lisa), would have been a horse's head, served whole on a silver platter in the centre of the table.  There really is no accounting for taste. 

I have no objection to the idea of eating horse, or serving it. In fact, Richard and I were very disappointed when we couldn't find any pferdewurst to try while holidaying in Austria a few years ago. Horse meat is used in many delicacies in Europe, from Bavaria to Germany and Italy to France, so why on earth wouldn't I want to sample some for myself.  I certainly have no moral objection to horse meat, although I may feel differently if I'd had a pet horse. I can't deny that the idea of eating cat or dog feels like a step too far, having grown up in a household where I lived alongside both. But, having never donned a pair of jodhpurs in my life, I don't have the same problem with eating horse meat, it's just that it seems nigh on impossible to find in the UK. In fact, it's easier to source zebra, crocodile or kangaroo than it is to source horse. It is not a part of British food culture and, because of that, people are often abhorred at the idea of eating it, sentimentalising their childhood memories of watching Black Beauty on the box on Saturday afternoons. If you are amongst them, you may find further abhorrence in the fact that traces of horse meat have been found in imported sausages and salamis in the not too distant past and I wouldn't be at all surprised if most of us haven't eaten horse meat, albeit unknowingly, at some point already.

The lack of horse meant a gain of hare - which is certainly not a staple of most people's diets and, for a large number of the H guests, this meal marked their first encounter. Indeed, although this wasn't the first time I'd tasted hare, this was the first time I'd cooked it. I ordered two hares from Chadwicks, fearing that one might not be enough - perhaps not a sensible concern, considering it was only one of six rather hearty courses. The nice woman at Chadwicks asked me if I wanted it "cut into bits" - yes, please! I took my bits of hare home and, on preparing the meat, found it to be unexpectedly bloody with an unpleasant ripe sort of a smell to it. I have enjoyed preparing other things less, but not many.

Hare has a strong flavour that wasn't appreciated by all my guests. Richard, Sarah and I all thought it was quite nice, although none of us would rush to have it again anytime soon, but Steve thought it was so delicious that he took all the leftovers home for the next evening's supper. Poor Lisa did not enjoy the experience of eating hare at all. In fact she found the taste far too strong and "liver-y"and left all but the first mouthful. Luckily there was no risk of her going home hungry and she seemed happy enough with the herby dumplings and haricot beans.


Hare in Hobsons Old Henry


2 (but 1 would probably be ample) hares, jointed
2 large onions, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 pint of fresh chicken stock
2 bottles of Hobsons Old Henry Ale
A couple of bay leaves
A few sprigs of thyme and rosemary tied together
Salt and pepper 

In a large saucepan or cast iron casserole, melt about an ounce (25 g) of butter with a generous splash of olive oil (hare is incredibly lean, so don't panic). Brown the pieces of hare in stages, leaving them on a warm plate until you're ready to chuck them back in the pot. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot to the pot and gently fry until soft. Chuck the hare back in with the herbs and pour over the stock and one bottle of ale. Season and leave to simmer with the lid on, stirring every now and then, for a couple of hours. Add the second bottle of ale and leave to simmer until thick and delicious for another hour or so and check the seasoning again. Place your herby dumplings on top and pop the lid on 20 minutes before you're ready to serve. Fish out the bay leaves and herb sprigs before plating up.


Herby dumplings


4oz/ 100g suet (vegetable suet is absolutely fine if you prefer)
8oz. 200g self raising flour
A pinch of salt 
Finely chopped fresh herbs - you can use whatever you like, but I chose rosemary, thyme and sage
Water


Place the ingredients (except the water) in a bowl and add mix in a little bit of water at a time until you've made a dough - you don't want it to be too wet or sticky. Roll the dough into golf sized balls with your hands and rolls the dumplings in flour. They can sit on a plate for a while quite happily before you pop them on top of your stew.


Haricot beans


1 tin of haricot beans, drained and rinsed or 300 g of dried beans that have been soaked in water overnight before use.
A little unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 pint of fresh chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
Salt and pepper


Fry the onion and garlic in a little butter until soft, then add the stock and stir. Tip in your drained beans along with the rosemary and salt and pepper. Leave to simmer for at least 40 minutes until soft. Check for seasoning and your beans are ready to serve.